The inauguration of 11 newly appointed justices of the Supreme Court, confirmed by the Senate in December last year, has been allegedly delayed due to accommodation and logistical challenges, as insights emerge amidst concerns over the reduced capacity of Nigeria’s apex court.
The Supreme Court, constitutionally required to have 21 justices, has been operating with just 10, significantly impacting its ability to address appeals from last year’s general elections efficiently.
The public outcry over the diminished bench strength led to a swift nomination and confirmation process, culminating in the Senate’s approval of the justices on December 21, 2023.
The confirmed justices include Haruna Tsammani from the North East, Moore Adumein from the South South, Jummai Sankey from the North Central, Chidiebere Uwa and Chioma Nwosu-Iheme from the South East, and others representing various geopolitical zones.
However, the anticipated boost to the Supreme Court’s operational capacity has been postponed.
A staff member of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), who spoke on condition of anonymity with Daily Trust shed light on the situation, explaining that part of the delay was also to allow the newly appointed justices to conclude their pending cases at the Court of Appeal.
This move aims to prevent a repeat of the scenario involving Justice Mohammed Idris and Orji Uzor Kalu in May 2020, where Idris was issued a fiat to return to the trial despite his elevation, a situation criticized for breaching the constitution.
He said, “So, the Supreme Court management said let the justices go and complete their cases before being appointed.”
Explaining what he knows about the delay, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Murtala Abdulrasheed, said there was no release of funds for furnishing of comfortable apartments, offices and purchase of vehicles for the newly elevated justices.
He said, “The justices have not been provided with the tools to work; but what I heard is that by the end of this month, they will do all.”
A staff member of the Supreme Court, who pleaded anonymity, confirmed that none of the vehicles for the new justices had been purchased, unlike previous appointments, as each justice is usually given three SUVs.
He said, “They don’t come with their vehicles from the Court of Appeal; new ones had to be provided for them.”
He added that there is a petition against one of the justices, which is being sorted out.
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